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Intersection of Life and Faith

Your Community is Waiting for You

  • Whitney Hopler Live It Editor
  • 2002 7 May
Your Community is Waiting for You
Needs surround you in your community - families are falling apart, people are losing jobs and lacking education, citizens are suffering the violent blows of crime. Government agencies do what they can to help, but churches have the power to make the most significant impact for change. Your neighbors need the hope that only Christ can bring, because only He can truly transform their lives.

It's great to pray for people, but God also wants you to serve them. He wants you to go outside your church's walls to bring your neighbors the hope that only He can offer.

Here are some ways your church can become the answer to some of your community's needs:

  • Research what needs currently exist in your community. Conduct a survey of people in your local area to get their input on ways your congregation might help meet needs. Then think and pray about how God would like you to get involved. Don't become overwhelmed by the amount or intensity of the needs before you; choose just one area in which to begin, then trust God to help you. After a while, you can branch out into other types of ministries.

  • Study what government agencies, other secular organizations, and other faith-based organizations are doing to serve your community. Then consider how you can form partnerships with them to increase the effectiveness of their work and contribute in your unique ways. Pay special attention to building a nondenominational coalition of churches to work together to shine Christ's light into the darkness of your community's needs.

  • Build relationships with influential people in your community such as police officers and teachers. Conduct an ongoing dialogue to determine how your church might best join them in helping your neighbors.

  • Practice what you preach. Strive to live a life of integrity - modeling Biblical virtues - so you can present an effective witness to your neighbors who are watching to see how Christ has made a difference in your life. Hold others in your congregation accountable and encourage them to do the same for you.

  • Be willing to make sacrifices. Your service will likely be costly, but it will also be worth every sacrifice you'll need to make.

  • Ask God for the grace to avoid becoming preoccupied with your own problems so you can pay attention to other people's problems and become part of God's solution in those situations. In the process, you'll see your own problems diminish.

  • Seek long-term solutions rather than just short-term ones. Rather than just distributing to food to poor people, for example, give them job training so they can eventually make enough money to rise out of poverty.

  • Mentor people. Take a genuine interest in who they are and be willing to teach them practical skills and disciple them spiritually. Seek lasting friendships with those who you help.

  • Invest church money more into community ministries than your church building or congregational life ministries. Look outward rather than inward. Rather than waiting for people to come visit your church, go to where they are and begin working with them there.

  • Apply for grants from government agencies, corporations, and charitable trusts to support and grow your church's work in the community.

  • When you make promises to people in the community, be sure to follow through. Let them see that they can truly count on you.

  • Be flexible, and eager to hear new guidance from God. When He leads you in new directions, be available, and willing to follow Him there.

Adapted from It Takes a Church to Raise a Village, copyright 2001 by Dr. Marva L. Mitchell. Published by Treasure House, an imprint of Destiny Image Publishers, Inc., Shippensburg, Pa., www.destinyimage.com, 1-800-722-6774.

Dr. Marva Mitchell is the pastor and cofounder of Revival Center Ministries International. She pastored with her husband for 20 years before he passed away. They co-founded Project Impact Dayton, an agency that works with children and their families. She also founded Love School, a Saturday program for inner city children. She oversees a fellowship of churches called God's WILL, and teaches church agency development across the nation.

Do you think your church is doing enough to serve people in your local community? What are some of the ways your church is doing well at this, and how can your church improve in this area? Why do you think it's important to constantly be looking outward as a congregation, rather than inward? Visit Crosswalk's forums to discuss this topic by clicking on the link below.

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